Pick Up Tips, The right way to lift objects!

Lifting, handling, or carrying objects at work can result in musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs), including sprains, strains and other injuries. The risk of injury increases when bending, twisting, heavy loads, and awkward postures are involved. Effective ergonomic controls can reduce the risk and prevent injuries.  Are you following safe lifting practices?

The Risks:

Injuries from lifting and handling of loads can occur in many occupations. Workers are exposed to risk when they lift, lower, or carry objects. Risk factors include:

  • The weight of the load
  • How close the load is to the body. A load lifted far from the body imposes more stress on the back than the same load lifted close to the body
  • The size and shape of the load
  • The distance the load has to be carried
  • The initial height of the load and the vertical distance lifted
  • Lifting in combination with twisting
  • How long the load has to be carried
  • The number and frequency of lifts performed

How to reduce the risks:

When choosing the appropriate risk controls, the employer must consult with the joint health and safety committee or the worker health and safety representative. Be sure to test the risk control before fully implementing to make it work within your organization. To help identify potential risk controls, consider the following questions:

Engineering controls:

  • Making physical modifications to facilities, equipment and processes can reduce exposure. Some questions to consider:
  • Can mechanical lifting ads such as hoists, pallet jacks, carts, or conveyors be used instead of manual material handling?
  • Can the load be lifted within the range of knee to waist height?
  • Can the vertical distance the load has to be lifted or lowered be shortened? Options include limiting shelf height, and raising the worker.
  • Can stooped or twisted positions be avoided by providing unrestricted work space, or arranging the workspace differently?
  • Can the size of the load be made smaller? Options include ordering smaller containers, or having workers make two trips with smaller loads rather than one trip with a heavy load.
  • Can carrying distance be shortened by changing the workflow?

Administrative controls:

  • Changing work practices and work policies, and training workers in proper lifting and handling techniques, can limit risk of MSIs. Some questions to consider:Can the task design be changed? (For example, changing a carrying task to a pushing or pulling task).Can work demands and work pace be balanced more effectively?
  • Can the tasks be varied?
  • Can workers be given time to rest or recover when lifting or handling loads?

It’s important to know how to lift the right way. According to the 2017 edition of Injury Facts, more than 300,000 cases  of sprains, strains or tears resulted in days away from work. Help protect yourself by following these four steps for safe lifting:

  • Size it up. Is the load light enough to be lifted by one person? If not, use a hand truck or ask for assistance. Check the container for exposed nails or staples that could cause injuries, and make sure you have a clear path to where you’re moving the load.
  • Safely lift. If the load can be lifted without assistance, first bring it as close to your body as possible. Lift with your legs – never with your back. Keep your head up and your back straight, and bend at the hips.
  • Move with care. Keep the load close to your body as you walk, and look ahead to be sure your path remains clear. Shift – don’t twist – your body to turn.
  • Don’t just drop it. When you’re ready to set down the load, let your leg muscles “carry it down”. Make sure your fingers and toes are clear of the load before setting it down.